Vashist Village - Waterfalls, Hot Springs
Aug 21, 2018
Vashihst Day. In the morning I walked to Amrita’s guesthouse hoping she would join me on a sojourn to Vashisht, but she was too tired and not up to it. I took off on my own.
The path to the waterfalls was recommended by everyone as an easy-does-it trail, completed in a few hours and a must-do for every traveler visiting Vashisht…
Hearing Israelis rave about the place, I expected a very picturesque village, but everything was full of dung, or maybe I was over-sensitive that day and it bothered me. Additionally, on the way to the beautiful falls, there was a river crossing with an underpass and a grid. Anbelievable amounts of plastic and other junk were trapped in it. Was painful to watch.
This lady was preparing for milking in the greenery, unhindered by our presence:
Point finger at polluter
A bit later on, though, there were signs posted on trees:
Point your finger at polluter
A girl must break up if boyfriend is polluter
You are invieted to read my post series, “Point Your Finger at Polluter – Who Cleans India” ,that was inspired by these adverts.
The signs were in English, so the message was obviously lost on a big percentage of the “polluter” population who can’t read English or can’t read at all.
Nonetheless, the walk to the falls was beautiful.
A tea to solve all problems
The path meandered through the forest, mostly in an uphill direction. At one point there was a nice viewpoint where a small joint was advertising “Health Tea”. The health tea for stomach problems – wild English thyme, which the guy was growing behind the stand and recommended highly – was good. I sat in the sukka-like structure overlooking the forest and the river, sipped the neutral-tasting tea and conversed with the owner, who opined that his tea could heal just about anything.
“Herbal tea” for every purpose
Socializing on the path
Right next to the Sukkah I met a nice Israeli couple with two children – Ela and Yiphtah. They were very nice. The children played falling on daddy, and daddy played catch. How nice to trust the person taking care of you. How nice to have a caring, loving family. I chatted with the kids. Then came the inevitable:
“Do you have grandchildren?”
Oh, I don’t have control over this….
Still, they were very nice. The Italian couple that I met a little higher up was not. I guess it’s insulting to be assumed to be French, but not a good enough reason in my opinion to be obnoxious.
The devotional aspect
I arrived with the Italians at the waterfalls, which were nice but nothing spectacular. I walked up by myself a little bit trying to get closer to the falls, but it was too complex.
The Lower Falls, Vashisht
What I liked, though, was the small shrine – an old stone structure on top of which women’s shawls were draped. Red. Underneath, there was a small cave for incense and offerings. Also an ancient huge tree close by – probably sacred.
More social life
On the way back I met a couple of Israelis on the path – a middle-aged woman with her very good looking 30-something son. They immediately attached themselves to me. The son wanted me to keep his mother company. She came for a month’s period to join him on his trip. I wasn’t very animated, but went along. They travelled together to Spiti renting a jeep, changing location daily. She suffered from the excessive movement. Hearing her made me worry about my prospective trip to Leh. [But it was GREAT! See my posts about the trip from Manali to Leh: Himachal, Ladakh]
Further down the path towards town, we saw a very pinky 4-year-old girl running joyfully on the hill with two Hindu boys. An Israeli family rented a house outside of Vashisht for the entire summer (four months). The girl was sad because the next day they were traveling to Southern India and from there flying home and she had to say her good-by…
Vashisht - The Tibetan Kitchen
I was recommended by some Israelis to go to the Tibetan Kitchen for lunch. It looked semi decent, but when I asked to wash my hands I happened to see the kitchen… No comment.
Ordered raviolis; not very Tibetan, but the atmosphere compensated for everything… A group of Israeli girls entered, one of whom pulled out a guitar. Nice, relaxing Israeli music filled up the air. I joined with my recorder. Later two boys joined as well.
Israeli girls playing music at the Tiebtan cafe, Vashisht
Vashishst - The Hot Springs
Eventually I went to the famous hot springs nearby. They were so hot, it was impossible to dip. One woman with a Far Eastern look took off her clothes and walked in, baby lifted in arms. We all cheered her. For me it was enough to get my feet in 5 cm deep. Water temperature felt to exceed 45C, but I might be wrong.
Even this Indian traveling site does not rave about the springs, but says it can be fun to dip in. Wasn’t when I was there., but at least it was completely free. Men and women baths were separate.
After that experience, I walked a little bit around the village, where I met a strange French Swiss guy, Chris, one of those who never look at you straight in the eye. He took me to his travel agent, since I was interested in getting to Leh, as he was, but the agent informed him that the only way for him to get to Leh was by minibus. He did not want to take two days to get there. He got frustrated, borderline angry.
I took my farewell from the Swiss and looked for available transport means back to Manali.
In a men’s world
It was a 15-rupee van back to Manali, but it only reached new Manali, so I took a rickshaw up the hill.
The bus was very crowded, all men. An old man next to me pushed his leg against mine. I tried inserting my walking stick between us. The message did not cross. He was still taking way more than his share of the sitting space. They were all conversing in Hindi.
Once the torture was over and we arrived in New Manali, I stopped at a “chemist” shop. The seller had no idea what altitude pills were, as Chris, the Swiss guy, recommended for the high mountains, but one of the customers, who was traveling to Leh by bicycle (!) explained this to him. I got about 5 pills. The cyclist said that the pills dehydrate, so I also I bought rehydration salts.
How do I get out of here?
I was happy to get back to my nice room, but still did not know what to do regarding Leh. Like Chris, I did not want to go by minibus, and was clear I wanted to stretch the trip over two days. My experience with the bus ride from hell was sufficient. Comfort over speed, plus I knew the road was beautiful.
So far my efforts at finding a jeep to Leh were futile. Everybody seemed to be coming down from there rather than going up…
I went to Beit Chabad, of course, in search of Israelis interested in traveling up north. Nobody was going, so I left a note on the wall, and also advertised on the Israeli sites.
Later on Yair called me. He was interested in going to Leh, but was religious. This restricted our options, because he was not willing to take any chances to get stuck on the road on Friday before Shabbat. My argument that he, on his part, was planning to get there on time, and any unforeseen delays would not be his fault, and God would therefore understand and forgive, fell on deaf ears. We had to leave Thursday, then, or forgo the trip until next week, which was late for him.
This was the first time it dawned on me that I was actually traveling in northern India off-season. That truth had not sunk in before despite the monsoon season in Bhagsu. Nonetheless, I do not regret experiencing this powerful natural phenomenon, which made my stay in Dharamsalla so much more interesting.
I did find a ride eventually, in a very asupicious turn of events, as so often happens in India…
You can read about my wonderful jeep trip to Leh here:
Manali to Leh Jeep Trip – Part I – Himachal Pradesh
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